Lack of confidence, gloom and doom, distrust, and anxiety are a toxic cocktail mix. You probably wonder how one person can survive with all that inside them! Yet, these negative people exist all around us and are impossible to avoid.
This is not to say that you will never have moments of despair, anxiety and discouragement. But as a positive person, you never let these thoughts take over your life. You live the four-to-one ratio: You generate four positive thoughts for every negative one, to keep situations from getting out of hand.
Below, you’ll find 15 signs of negative people, and see what makes them tick. You’ll discover why many people are unaware of their negativity and how it is ruining their lives – and everyone else’s. These warning signs will also teach you to be on the alert so that you can avoid falling into the black hole of negativity.
The 15 signs of negative people:
1. They always worry
Negative people survive on worry – a very unhealthy diet. This mindset is geared towards the need to feel protected and aware to an extreme degree. Practising mindfulness and staying in the present are great ways to squash worry.
“Whatever is going to happen will happen, whether we worry or not.” – Anna Monnar
2. They try to tell you what to do
When people start to tell you what you should do with your life, what house to buy or whether you should change your job, you can be sure they are in the negative squad. They do not realize it but this is a sure sign that they have not sorted out their own life issues. It is much easier to tell everyone else how to live their lives!
3. They live in the default position
There is a neurological explanation as to why some people end up being so negative. It has to do with the part of the brain called the amygdala, which functions as an alarm and is constantly on the look out for danger, fear and bad news. Scientists believe this to be the brain’s default position. In evolutionary terms, this is understandable; it is all part of the fear-flight mechanism in which the brain uses most of its neurons to keep up with all the bad news that is stored in the memory.
Positive people develop an ability to evaluate and face up to problems which can counteract this mechanism.
4. They enjoy secrecy
If you meet a negative person at a party, you may find the conversation rather tedious. Fearful of revealing too much information about themselves, they live in fear that doing so would be used against them in some way. They rarely think that what they share could be used in a positive light.
If you find yourself becoming defensive and closed during conversation, think about possible reasons why.
5. They are pessimists
My mother was the world’s greatest pessimist. Spotting menacing clouds on the way to the beach, she would invariably say that the best of the day had gone. (I cannot remember any downpours when we had to return home.)
Negative people rarely envisage a happy outcome or great result. They always imagine that everything will go wrong.
6. They cannot limit their exposure to bad news
Negative people love coming into your cubicle and saying things like, “Have you heard the terrible news about….”, after which they fill you in on all the gory details. The tragedy is that overexposure to negative news affects a person more deeply than was previously thought. Research has shown that media exposure to violence, death and tragedy contributes to depression and anxiety, as well as to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It colors a negative person’s outlook on life.
That is why you should limit the amount of news you watch on television and on your PC. Difficult? Perhaps. But essential if you are to remain positive.
7. They have very thin skin
Those who are negative are likely to be over sensitive to criticism, even taking compliments the wrong way. They interpret innocent remarks as being condescending or rude. For example, a negative person may find jokes about short people offensive because they are not very tall themselves.
8. They complain a lot
Negative people tend to whine a lot, convinced that the whole world is against them. They are usually the victim of lousy weather, a difficult boss, bad luck, and their upbringing. They rarely step back to look at other factors – such as a lack of energy, creativity or simply hard work.
9. They never move outside their comfort zone
Moving outside the familiar world is anathema to those who are negative. They cannot face the possibility of more fear, discomfort, challenges or failure. They are thus never able to try out new experiences and are doomed to dwell in their dull and dreary comfort zone.
10. They love the word ‘but’
A negative person might say something positive or even compliment you on your great cooking. They might be happy to find themselves on the beach or in a restaurant. The only problem: They finish their remarks with the ‘but’ word, turning this positive into a negative. You get remarks like “It looks like a great restaurant but I wonder why you didn’t book a table outside” or “It’s a lovely beach but there are always too many people around.”
11. They are underachievers
Lack of success could be due to many factors, but negativity is a main cause. Negative people usually think they are not smart enough, athletic enough, or good enough. But the real threat to their success is that their emotional intelligence is crippled by their often critical and confrontational manner. Additionally, they will regale you with stories of how difficult people were, how they would never collaborate and how impossible it was to get anywhere with them.
If they had been just a bit more positive, you think, they might have got somewhere!
12. They never get excited about future projects
Have you noticed that those who are negative can never talk about future plans or projects in a positive way? Actually, they rarely talk about plans at all because they are too wrapped up in their present misery. As a positive person, you have dreams. You have projects and visions of what your future will be like. You are on an open highway while they are stuck in a dark tunnel.
13. They become energy vampires
In addition to being demanding, negative people suck out all your energy, just like a vampire. They are simply incapable of producing any positive energy and will absorb your attention, time, and energy as they proceed to drag you down the negativity spiral.
14. They miss out on the good things of life
A negative person will hardly recognize joy, passion, contentment and excitement. These are not emotions or sensations that they regularly experience.
Of course, this is hardly surprising when considering these persons are fixated on their unsatisfying jobs, relationships and social status.
15. They put a negative spin on good news
You are excited to share great news about your dream job, engagement or a new house. But when you want to tell a negative person, you hesitate. Why? You know that they will always find a way to make it sound negative. They will caution you to be careful, warn you of the dangers and tell you to think carefully before accepting.
The best way to deal with all this negativity is to thank your lucky stars that you are positive and that you have overcome most of the negativity in your life. The more negative a person is, the happier you can be that you are not like them – and you will be extra careful about getting caught in their web.
Editors’ Picks on Psychology & Communication
- The 5 Personality Patterns: Your Guide to Understanding Yourself and Others and Developing Emotional Maturity by Steven Kessler
- Not Nice: Stop People Pleasing, Staying Silent, & Feeling Guilty… And Start Speaking Up, Saying No, Asking Boldly, And Unapologetically Being Yourself by Aziz Gazipura
- Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry, Revised and Expanded by Albert J. Bernstein
- Nasty People by Jay Carter